Because I have Impaired Glucose Tolerance of Pregnancy (IGT- meaning my body isn’t handling sugars and insulin properly because of the pregnancy hormones) I get followed at the prenatal center at the hospital in their diabetes clinic. It started off at every 2 weeks until they got under control then I got to skip a month at a time, and now that I’m past 35 weeks I have to go in once a week for the checkup and an NST (Non-Stress Test). During the NST I lie on a bed and get hooked up to the fetal heartbeat and contraction monitors and a machine spits out a series of lines (kinda like a lie detector test) that shows the baby’s responsiveness and any contractions or fetal movements. The visits take longer because there are always long waits for the beds, but I get to relax and listen to the baby’s heartbeat for 20 minutes.
This Monday we had a snowstorm (YES in April) and I had left really early so I got there well before my scheduled appointment time. Because I was early and there was almost no one there yet I got to be seen by the nurse early and then got to take one of the beds while waiting for the doctor to show up. Everything went well, my blood pressure was great, weight was good, baby was responsive. Then I saw the doctor and he asked if I’d scheduled my 35 week ultrasound. I said yes, and that it was in 2 more weeks. He asked why and I said that when I’d called to book it the ultrasound department said it was really supposed to be at 37 weeks and they scheduled it for then. The doctor got really annoyed. Apparently there is a “thing” between them where the doctors think it should be 35 weeks and the lab thinks 37 weeks.
Personally, I agree with the doctor. The reason for scheduling this ultrasound is because when a pregnant woman has IGT or Gestational Diabetes there is a higher risk of having a large baby. This could lead to complications during delivery and a possible need for emergency action. If the baby is excessively large then the doctors might decide to induce the baby early. 37 weeks isn’t early. A baby born between 37 and 41 weeks is considered “on time” whereas preemies are babies born prior to 37 weeks. Doing an ultrasound at 37 weeks doesn’t have much of a benefit.
To sum up this long story, he wanted me to have the ultrasound now, at 35 weeks. Since the weather was so bad he took a chance that someone would have cancelled and sure enough they had room for me. So it was disappointing that Yannick wasn’t there with me to see the baby, but I got to go right over to the ultrasound department, knit for about a half hour while I waited then see my little one waving fingers and sucking on toes. The good news is that the baby isn’t big after all. The weight is estimated at 5.5lbs right now, which is smack-dab 50% average. The bad news is that the baby is in a frank breech position. This means the head is up and the bum is down, and the baby is facing my left side in a fetal position (knees to chest). I was very disappointed to find out that the baby isn’t head down but figured I’d wait to speak to my own doctor before worrying.
Yesterday was my appointment with her. It was called for 10:30am and I think she saw me around 11:15-ish. I didn’t care- I had my knitting with me and had gotten quite a bit of work done on the Baby Einstein Coat. Once I got in to see her I asked her my few questions and then she did her exam. Every time I go I have to get an internal exam because of the contractions- she needs to make sure I’m not going into labour. I’m not. I gave her the paper with the ultrasound results and got my first bad news of the day. Because of the baby’s position and the fact that this is my first child the odds are very slim that it will turn by the time I need to deliver. She told me about a few exercises I can try before I see her again in 2 weeks, but if the baby hasn’t turned by then, and she’s sure that won’t happen, then I will absolutely have to have a C-section. I asked her about the “version” I’d heard about, where doctors manipulate your belly to try and manually turn the baby. Because it has risks (like the umbilical cord getting tangled around the baby’s neck) and doesn’t usually work, and she doesn’t think it will work with me, it’s not an option.
I am really heartbroken by this news. I know there is nothing wrong with having a C-section. I know many women even choose it deliberately. I know that if I would have been able to attempt a natural delivery and then have something go wrong and force the need for a C-section I would have been FINE with it. But to have the choice taken away from me, not because the baby is too big, or because something is wrong, but just because the baby is upside down is unfair. I really wanted the chance to go through labour and see what it is like, to see whether I could do it naturally, would I need an epidural, what is the pain like, and to actually give birth to my child. Instead a doctor will just cut me open and take the baby out, all clinical and matter-of-fact. It didn’t really hit me until late last night when I was reading a pregnancy magazine’s article about labour and it hit me that I probably wouldn’t get to do it. I know, I know, it’s what’s best for the baby. It just sucks.
Then time for the second bad news of the day. She took my blood pressure and it was high. Not borderline but actually high. (Could have been from the stress of worrying about a C-section). In any case, she told me she couldn’t ignore it and that I would have to go right away to the case room and be monitored and have blood tests and urine cultures done to make sure I wasn’t experiencing PreEclampsia. If everything turned out normal then I could go home and see her again in 2 weeks. If everything wasn’t ok? I’d have to have a C-section. In the next day or two.
I quickly called my mom to have her call my dad and tell him I wouldn’t be at work right away, and to call Yannick and explain what was going on. Then I went down to the case room. They put me on a bed, hooked me up to the same monitors and testing equipment they use for the NST (the same stuff I’d been hooked up to when I went in with contractions back in March). They took about 5 vials of blood and a urine sample. Then they tested my blood pressure again. Still high.
What did they expect? I went in for a routine examination and was suddenly told I could be having major surgery to extract my child sometime in the NEXT DAY OR SO. OF COURSE my blood pressure was high! They took it again about an hour later and it was normal, which was a very good thing. By that point I knew the urine culture was normal but the blood work wasn’t in yet, so they ordered me some lunch and I had to wait. My mom came by after she finished work and hung out with me for a while. They came back again and took the bp and this time it was high again, but not super-high. “Higher than they would like” were the nurse’s exact words. I asked what the likelyhood was that I would have to deliver the baby based on my current bp and other stats. They said they’d have to confer with the doctor before giving me an answer. Great. More waiting in uncertainity. They came back a while later and did it again and it was still “sorta-high” but since everything else was good they told me I could go home. I had to do one more test for which I’ll get the results by tomorrow, and otherwise all is good.
So it was a long day with a little scare and some bad news. But its over, and for the time being my little kid is safe and sound right where it is.
And how was YOUR Wednesday?
April 19, 2007 at 9:50 pm
Maybe just maybe that little one will turn around okay beforehand. But I’m glad they’re watching that blood pressure–an astute nurse saved my sister’s life that way. Her preeclampsia wasn’t diagnosed till right at delivery, and only because the nurse just had a feeling. So you’re being watched earlier–I’m very glad. (And I had a friend in a 16 day coma from hers that hadn’t been diagnosed, recovered fine, had two more kids and no more problems… Okay, I’ll shut up now.)
April 20, 2007 at 1:56 pm
Wow! It’s better to know that you’re being well followed than to have released you and let you go home and worry.
Rest, relax and try not to stress. Hopefully the baby will turn – it does sometimes happen quite near the end – and if not, just keep in mind that after it’s all over you WILL have a baby in your arms no matter how he comes out.
April 20, 2007 at 5:53 pm
Sorry you got bad news. 😦 It sounds like they are being extra cautious, which is probably a good thing.
April 30, 2007 at 9:15 pm
I wouldn’t worry too much about the baby’s position. At 35 weeks (I know you’ve still got a little ways to go!), there’s still a lot of time for babies to turn. Heck, they can turn while you’re in labor (that’s part of what labor is all about, getting the baby into the right position). I wouldn’t worry about your GD being a problem, either, as long as it’s being monitored. And keep in mind that measuring babies via ultrasound can be extremely off (by pounds!) in later pregnancy.
Also, don’t worry so much about pre-eclampsia. Unless you have high blood pressure AND protein in your urine, you’re fine. You’ll very likely feel it if you have it – you’ll probably get a very painful, sudden headache and your hands and/or face will swell quickly.
I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but I’ve been doing a heck of a lot of reading while my belly grows, and a lot of it echoes what I’ve always felt was right: Our bodies know what they’re doing, and having babies is not an illness (doctors tend to treat it that way).